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  • Cecile Corral

Home Depot and Lowe's Face Off in Area Rugs Category

Face to Face

MIAMI - Considering the vast amount space necessary to merchandise a plausible assortment of area rugs - whether displayed on hanger racks or rolled up in clusters - it's no wonder the country's two major home improvement centers are among those who do the job best.
Atlanta-based Home Depot and Charlotte, N.C.-Lowe's, with their spacious selling floors and industrial-style shelving, can do justice to the bulky area rug category.
This report continues HTT's "Face to Face" series comparing similar merchandising classifications at pairs of competing retailers.
But on a recent visit to each of these stores here, located 10 blocks apart and serving the same market in Miami's West Kendall neighborhood, it was clear that there are some obvious differences between how Home Depot approaches its soft flooring business compared to Lowe's tactics in the same endeavor.
In the largely suburban and sprawling West Kendall region, the two retailers are in close competition in many categories, including major appliances, home repair supplies, patio furniture and lawn-and-garden wares.
But are they serving different area rug customers? It's hard to say.
The product offering is not very different and representation of manufacturers/vendors with collection placement doesn't vary too much between one and the other.
But what is noticeably distinct between Home Depot and Lowe's in the rug departments is their reliance on their online businesses as a conduit for special order styles and sizes.
The West Kendall Lowe's lives up to the home center's reputation as a more polished alternative to Home Depot's do-it-yourself, no-frills atmosphere.
Here, accent rugs take center stage in the soft flooring department, with area rug sizes relegated to the back aisle.
The accent rug offering is plentiful and equal in size by square feet to the also-emphasized doormat offering.
These smaller pieces are displayed on clean racks and arranged according to purpose and room-use theme - novelty, kids room, kitchen, and contemporary, among others - as well as by construction the utility purpose - for example, bedroom accent or kitchen comfort mat.
Behind the approximately 25-foot long and four-foot high back-to-back accent and doormat shelves is the area rug aisle - with the left side of the aisle devoted to area rugs while the facing side stocks assorted hard-surface options like boxed tiles.
On the rug side of the aisle are 43 area rugs displayed back to- back and in some cases solo on about 24 clip hangers.
Underneath is about 42 feet of horizontal shelving for the smaller size options and behind each hanging rug are rolled-and-wrapped in-stocks of the larger sizes.
Lowe's most prolifi c suppliers of area rugs are Oriental Weavers and Shaw Living, each of which have nine collections in stock at this store.
Lowe's own allen + roth brand also features nine collections, but broken down these comprise: two by Lowe's own LG Sourcing wholly-owned subsidiary, three made by Oriental Weavers, two by Shaw, and two by Orian Rugs.
Mohawk Home is in a close second place with eight collections, followed by Balta U.S.'s five and Orian Rugs with four.
Home Dynamix, Natco Home and Safavieh each have one program at Lowe's.
Lowe's overall area rug in-stock assortment is heavily skewed toward transitional looks, some of them with a more contemporary tilt.
Traditional looks are also emphasized, as are indoor/outdoor varieties - the latter which are not only included on hanging racks but also in stand-alone box displays filled with rolled-and wrapped rugs both in the center of the area rug aisle and as endcap displays in the retailer's high-fashion lawn-and-garden area of the store.
The area rug aisle's presentation at the West Kendall Lowe's unit attempted to be orderly. But there were some signs of neglect, as some rug hanger racks were incomplete and underneath and behind storage for merchandise was disorderly and often out of place.

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